Edwin Hing Wan

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Artist Category: Artists, Painter, and Deceased

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  • Edwin-Ou-Hing-Wan

    Copyright and Credit to Mr. Albert Sydney

    EDWIN HINGWAN

    1932-1976

    PRODUCING EXCEPTIONAL ART 

    AGAINST THE ODDS

    By Michael Anthony

    People of the Century

    Express

    June 7, 2000

    Pages 34 and 35

    Perhaps the most unusual of all the personalities who distinguished our 20th century in Trinidad was the watercolour artist, Edwin Hingwan. Born in Mayaro in 1932, Hingwan is regarded in circles at home and abroad as one of the most talented artists to have come from these parts.

    And although he is hardly among the best known of our painters, his work, because of their simple beauty and charm, has become collector’s items in many countries of the world.

    One of the factors influencing this is that there are not many items of his work, given a relatively short career of about 20 years. It might seem ironic that the period of his greatest activity so far as painting was concerned, was a period when he was stricken with a crippling polio-like disease.

    And this is what makes him exceptionally unusual. His fame through his paintings has nothing to do with the excruciating physical challenges, which he has had to undergo to execute them. His watercolours have stood up against the best we have produced, whether or not we consider his physical disabilities.

    Edwin Hingwan was the victim of a disease, which, from the reaction of the experts, is among the rarest known to medical science. It appears so rarely that little is known about it, and his case was never successfully diagnosed.

    He was perfectly healthy as a youngster, and went through his college years without any threats of the storm to come, but no sooner had he left Queen’s Royal College that the storm clouds gathered.

    Having excelled in the sciences at Queen’s Royal College, he took up an engineering job with Trinidad Leaseholds oil company at Pointe-a-Pierre. In his very first year at the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery, when he seemed to have become most interested in the hobby of painting, the disease struck. The year was 1951, and hopes of a bright future were suddenly shattered.

    No doctor was able to diagnose the disease, let alone treat it, and so he was advised to go to see a specialist in England. He remained in England many months longer than he expected while the British experts speculated as to what the disease might be. During the period he was under treatment in England the disease began wasting him away, beginning to deprive him of the use of his limbs.

    The young trainee-engineer returned home from England with his condition very much worse than when he had gone there, and he was taken to his home at Mayaro. Already quite disabled, he was confined to a wheelchair, and in fact, was almost bedridden.

    But the illness could not conquer the heroic spirit of Edwin Hingwan. Having, naturally, abandoned all thoughts of an active physical life, he quickly turned to the hobby that was his first love, drawing and painting. Throughout most of 1951 he could not have thought of it because of anxiety over his health, but now, resigned to his illness, and with time on his hands, he turned to canvas and brush again.

    But how could he physically manage to paint? For at this stage his arms were almost useless. In any case, he did not have fingers capable of holding a brush. So how could he paint?

    As a result of his extraordinary determination and the urge to use the pent up talent inside him, he had to draw on all his resources and improvise. He made his mother strap the brush to the back of his hand, and so, sitting up in his wheelchair, with the canvas propped up in front of him, and with his paints and other materials on a specially-made table-top, he set to work.

    The very act of painting in such a restricted manner – and with the brush strapped to the back of the hand – would have been something to marvel at.

    But, as was shown, not only did Edwin Hingwan manage to paint pictures in this fashion, but in so doing he produced some of the finest watercolours we have had.

    And in producing these gems, he has captured in watercolours and acrylic oils the loveliness of a region in southern Mayaro, and this is one of the rich legacies he has left for the village.

    HINGWAN – A MASTER OF 

    UNIQUENESS AND NOSTALGIA

    Part 2

    PEOPLE OF THE CENTURY

    By Michael Anthony

    Express

    Section 2

    June 14, 2000

    Pages 12 & 13

    Because the manner in which Edwin Hingwan was constrained to paint was not widely known in the early part of his career, when people who admired his work learned that he was crippled, they just could not believe it.

    Nor did Hingwan himself want them to know of his adversity. In an interview which he gave years later, he declared, “I was always sensitive to the fact that people, knowing my condition, might want to buy my work just out of sympathy. And so, because of this, I didn’t want those intending to buy to know that I was crippled.”

    But whether they knew or not, his paintings began to go. The fact was that very soon after Edwin Hingwan began taking his paintings seriously – that would have been from 1952, when he was settled again at Mayaro – he began to make a great impact.

    The freshness of his style, the idyllic setting, the vivid realism, these were the qualities that charmed art-lovers. His subject was the Mayaro scene of sea, sand, and palms, boats, lagoons, and old houses; sunrises over the coast, seine-men casting out nets or pulling them in; brilliant sunrises over the sandy shore, and moonrises over the sea.

    Apart from the charm of idyllic scenes from a remote country village, mixed with the unique Hingwan touch of presenting with atmosphere and feeling and a quality very like nostalgia, there was also the added dimension of a faithful pictorial record of scenes that were there and real. The paintings came to be regarded with such high esteem that the artist became one of the most important painters in the land.

    Many of his fellow artists had always stood by him, and now, through their help, he was able to launch his first art exhibition under the auspices of the Trinidad Art Society, in 1959.

    The success of the exhibition was that Hingwan was acclaimed as someone bringing something new to painting; a charming and poetic realism that had hardly been seen before.

    Throughout the 1960s his work was so avidly sought that the problem that arose was that he could not produce the paintings fast enough – so quickly were they snapped up by buyers, especially from abroad.

    In the 1960s an estate manager’s wife thought it fit to organise “Hingwan” festivals under the palms in front of his home at the old Ste Marguerite Estate, Mayaro, and this had the effect of bringing Hingwan’s pictures into greater public notice, and thus, into greater demand.

    Strangely enough, though, this led to the painter having an even greater problem in staging exhibitions.

    Nevertheless, he did manage to collect paintings from time to time and he staged several one-man exhibitions in Port of Spain in the 1960s. Of course, all this was done in his absence, through the help of his artist friends. For he himself was always at his Mayaro home, either stretched out on his wheelchair or lying flat on his back.

    Despite his illness, though, Hingwan worked hard at his profession, and it was his mother who single-handedly bore the brunt of the chores, getting him ready for painting, getting the right paints, the right brushes, and other material; setting up canvas on easel, and scores of other little things. Maybe the artist, who only stopped when his physical strength could take no more, realised it was crucial for him to make money, for at this time, the family, never wealthy, must have already depleted their resources. With the special medical attention he had to receive, it was very expensive just keeping him alive.

    In that period, though, he more than earned his keep, but as the decade of the 1960s came to an end, there were many emergencies and he often had to be rushed to hospital.

    However, there were occasions when he requested to be taken to certain scenes in Mayaro that he wanted to paint. Watercolours were the materials he used most of the time, although he also painted in oils and acrylics. By the beginning of the 1970s he was producing (and selling) about 100 paintings a year.

    But as the mid-1970s approached, Edwin Hingwan was approaching the end of his day. The illness which had struck in 1951, and which had laid him low, had by now reduced him to what looked like a bag of bones.

    Because of his precarious condition, he underwent many health crises in 1975, and became critical as the year ended. When 1976 opened Mayaro was in danger of losing one of its most remarkable sons. But Edwin Hingwan hanged on.

    However, he was only able to hang on until February 17, when he died.

    It is difficult to pay adequate tribute to him. He has had to fight for survival since adolescent days, and he did so bravely and cheerfully. He never wanted sympathy. He struggled to keep faith with the art he loved, and the place e loved, and he ended up by making a name for himself without even seeking it. True, he was helped by his enormous talent, but without his bravery, his courage, and his determination, the talent would have had no chance to bloom.

    Apart from his scenes of sand, sea and nature, lagoons and boats, and some old seaside houses, one of his finest paintings is of the central Mayaro junction at Pierreville around 1945.

    He painted it as an adult, without having seen it since his childhood, and yet the picture is faithful in every detail.

    Perhaps this is ample tribute to his love of birthplace, his memory, his faith, and his outstanding talent.

  • Gender: Male
    Membership Status: Deceased
    Artist Bio:

    EDWIN HINGWAN
    1932-1976
    PRODUCING EXCEPTIONAL ART
    AGAINST THE ODDS
    By Michael Anthony
    People of the Century
    Express
    June 7, 2000
    Pages 34 and 35
    Perhaps the most unusual of all the personalities who distinguished our 20th century in Trinidad was the watercolour artist, Edwin Hingwan. Born in Mayaro in 1932, Hingwan is regarded in circles at home and abroad as one of the most talented artists to have come from these parts.
    And although he is hardly among the best known of our painters, his work, because of their simple beauty and charm, has become collector's items in many countries of the world.
    One of the factors influencing this is that there are not many items of his work, given a relatively short career of about 20 years. It might seem ironic that the period of his greatest activity so far as painting was concerned, was a period when he was stricken with a crippling polio-like disease.
    And this is what makes him exceptionally unusual. His fame through his paintings has nothing to do with the excruciating physical challenges, which he has had to undergo to execute them. His watercolours have stood up against the best we have produced, whether or not we consider his physical disabilities.
    Edwin Hingwan was the victim of a disease, which, from the reaction of the experts, is among the rarest known to medical science. It appears so rarely that little is known about it, and his case was never successfully diagnosed.
    He was perfectly healthy as a youngster, and went through his college years without any threats of the storm to come, but no sooner had he left Queen's Royal College that the storm clouds gathered.
    Having excelled in the sciences at Queen's Royal College, he took up an engineering job with Trinidad Leaseholds oil company at Pointe-a-Pierre. In his very first year at the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery, when he seemed to have become most interested in the hobby of painting, the disease struck. The year was 1951, and hopes of a bright future were suddenly shattered.
    No doctor was able to diagnose the disease, let alone treat it, and so he was advised to go to see a specialist in England. He remained in England many months longer than he expected while the British experts speculated as to what the disease might be. During the period he was under treatment in England the disease began wasting him away, beginning to deprive him of the use of his limbs.
    The young trainee-engineer returned home from England with his condition very much worse than when he had gone there, and he was taken to his home at Mayaro. Already quite disabled, he was confined to a wheelchair, and in fact, was almost bedridden.
    But the illness could not conquer the heroic spirit of Edwin Hingwan. Having, naturally, abandoned all thoughts of an active physical life, he quickly turned to the hobby that was his first love, drawing and painting. Throughout most of 1951 he could not have thought of it because of anxiety over his health, but now, resigned to his illness, and with time on his hands, he turned to canvas and brush again.
    But how could he physically manage to paint? For at this stage his arms were almost useless. In any case, he did not have fingers capable of holding a brush. So how could he paint?
    As a result of his extraordinary determination and the urge to use the pent up talent inside him, he had to draw on all his resources and improvise. He made his mother strap the brush to the back of his hand, and so, sitting up in his wheelchair, with the canvas propped up in front of him, and with his paints and other materials on a specially-made table-top, he set to work.
    The very act of painting in such a restricted manner - and with the brush strapped to the back of the hand - would have been something to marvel at.
    But, as was shown, not only did Edwin Hingwan manage to paint pictures in this fashion, but in so doing he produced some of the finest watercolours we have had.
    And in producing these gems, he has captured in watercolours and acrylic oils the loveliness of a region in southern Mayaro, and this is one of the rich legacies he has left for the village.

    HINGWAN - A MASTER OF
    UNIQUENESS AND NOSTALGIA
    Part 2
    PEOPLE OF THE CENTURY
    By Michael Anthony
    Express
    Section 2
    June 14, 2000
    Pages 12 & 13
    Because the manner in which Edwin Hingwan was constrained to paint was not widely known in the early part of his career, when people who admired his work learned that he was crippled, they just could not believe it.
    Nor did Hingwan himself want them to know of his adversity. In an interview which he gave years later, he declared, "I was always sensitive to the fact that people, knowing my condition, might want to buy my work just out of sympathy. And so, because of this, I didn't want those intending to buy to know that I was crippled."
    But whether they knew or not, his paintings began to go. The fact was that very soon after Edwin Hingwan began taking his paintings seriously - that would have been from 1952, when he was settled again at Mayaro - he began to make a great impact.
    The freshness of his style, the idyllic setting, the vivid realism, these were the qualities that charmed art-lovers. His subject was the Mayaro scene of sea, sand, and palms, boats, lagoons, and old houses; sunrises over the coast, seine-men casting out nets or pulling them in; brilliant sunrises over the sandy shore, and moonrises over the sea.
    Apart from the charm of idyllic scenes from a remote country village, mixed with the unique Hingwan touch of presenting with atmosphere and feeling and a quality very like nostalgia, there was also the added dimension of a faithful pictorial record of scenes that were there and real. The paintings came to be regarded with such high esteem that the artist became one of the most important painters in the land.
    Many of his fellow artists had always stood by him, and now, through their help, he was able to launch his first art exhibition under the auspices of the Trinidad Art Society, in 1959.
    The success of the exhibition was that Hingwan was acclaimed as someone bringing something new to painting; a charming and poetic realism that had hardly been seen before.
    Throughout the 1960s his work was so avidly sought that the problem that arose was that he could not produce the paintings fast enough - so quickly were they snapped up by buyers, especially from abroad.
    In the 1960s an estate manager's wife thought it fit to organise "Hingwan" festivals under the palms in front of his home at the old Ste Marguerite Estate, Mayaro, and this had the effect of bringing Hingwan's pictures into greater public notice, and thus, into greater demand.
    Strangely enough, though, this led to the painter having an even greater problem in staging exhibitions.
    Nevertheless, he did manage to collect paintings from time to time and he staged several one-man exhibitions in Port of Spain in the 1960s. Of course, all this was done in his absence, through the help of his artist friends. For he himself was always at his Mayaro home, either stretched out on his wheelchair or lying flat on his back.
    Despite his illness, though, Hingwan worked hard at his profession, and it was his mother who single-handedly bore the brunt of the chores, getting him ready for painting, getting the right paints, the right brushes, and other material; setting up canvas on easel, and scores of other little things. Maybe the artist, who only stopped when his physical strength could take no more, realised it was crucial for him to make money, for at this time, the family, never wealthy, must have already depleted their resources. With the special medical attention he had to receive, it was very expensive just keeping him alive.
    In that period, though, he more than earned his keep, but as the decade of the 1960s came to an end, there were many emergencies and he often had to be rushed to hospital.
    However, there were occasions when he requested to be taken to certain scenes in Mayaro that he wanted to paint. Watercolours were the materials he used most of the time, although he also painted in oils and acrylics. By the beginning of the 1970s he was producing (and selling) about 100 paintings a year.
    But as the mid-1970s approached, Edwin Hingwan was approaching the end of his day. The illness which had struck in 1951, and which had laid him low, had by now reduced him to what looked like a bag of bones.
    Because of his precarious condition, he underwent many health crises in 1975, and became critical as the year ended. When 1976 opened Mayaro was in danger of losing one of its most remarkable sons. But Edwin Hingwan hanged on.
    However, he was only able to hang on until February 17, when he died.
    It is difficult to pay adequate tribute to him. He has had to fight for survival since adolescent days, and he did so bravely and cheerfully. He never wanted sympathy. He struggled to keep faith with the art he loved, and the place e loved, and he ended up by making a name for himself without even seeking it. True, he was helped by his enormous talent, but without his bravery, his courage, and his determination, the talent would have had no chance to bloom.
    Apart from his scenes of sand, sea and nature, lagoons and boats, and some old seaside houses, one of his finest paintings is of the central Mayaro junction at Pierreville around 1945.
    He painted it as an adult, without having seen it since his childhood, and yet the picture is faithful in every detail.
    Perhaps this is ample tribute to his love of birthplace, his memory, his faith, and his outstanding talent.

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